10 Costa Rica Facts You Didn’t Know
Central America’s most idyllic holiday destination attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. While years ago it used to be a hidden treasure, whose incredible natural wonders and amazing eco-tourism assets were known to all but a few intrepid adventurers, nowadays it seems the secret is truly out. Coast Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth and an exceptionally eco-friendly hub which boasts a fiercely protected conservation area equal to a quarter of its land. Amazing much?!
Yet despite the buzz and popularity of Costa Rica, particularly as an adventure lover’s paradise, there are still plenty of facts about the country most people don’t even know.
Think you know all there is to know about this sublime spot of natural gorgeousness? Think again!
Below are 10 facts about Costa Rica you probably don’t know.
Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth!
The Happy Planet Index has ranked Costa Rica as the ‘happiest place on earth’ for two years running. However, unlike the usual, run-of-the-mill ‘people’ happiness index, this particular index is concerned solely with the happiness of the planet itself, in a particular spot. As one of the world’s leading sustainable economies, Costa Rica is revered for providing its citizens with a stress-free, happy and long life, while making minimal ecological impact on its environment. In other words: if you could be a small corner of our planet, and wish to enjoy a blissful existence…you’d want to be Costa Rica.
‘Pura Vida’ is a life philosophy
The ‘pure life’ is a concept which is ubiquitous in most Central American countries and taken to mean that one should enjoy life to its fullest, every single day. No matter where you go, you’ll meet people who use ‘pura vida’ as a form of greeting and try to slip it into every conversation they have. Yet in Costa Rica, ‘pura vida’ is more than a mere expression; it is a philosophy, a way of life and a belief which dictates every decision they make. If you’ve ever wanted to experience first-hand what it’s like to ‘work to live, rather than live to work’, then you really need to visit Costa Rica. They’ll show you how it’s done.
Locals are called Ticos and Ticas
While we’re at it, we may as well tell you that Costa Ricans aren’t actually called Costa Ricans at all, but rather Ticos (males) and Ticas (females). The term originates from local’s abundant use of the affix ‘tico’ in conversation, which is nothing more than a cutesy diminutive. While the Spanish would say un poco, to denote ‘just a little’, Ticos would say un poquitico. Chuiquito become chiquitico…and so on. Ticos are so enamoured by sweet terminology that one of the most often used nicknames, among lovers, is media naranja, which means ‘half of an orange’!
Costa Rica boasts one of the highest life expectancies in the world
Between the abundant pristine wilderness, over-use of sweet terminology and copious ways to enjoy the pura vida, it should now come as no surprise that Ticos enjoy an impressive life expectancy. The average here is 80 years of age, which is actually two more than the Unites States and only one less than Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy of all.
Ticos REALLY love their coffee. We mean REAALLY love their coffee.
First time visitors to Costa Rica are often shocked to see locals giving coffee to children or even babies. There’s really nothing to worry about here; mixing bit of coffee in a baby’s milk bottle may seem utterly bizarre to foreigners but is a perfectly acceptable thing to do here, and not dissimilar to the way some Europeans (Italians or French for example) often allow their children to have just a few drops of alcohol. Experts believe this is a very healthy way of stimulating young taste buds and has no detrimental effects to a child’s health whatsoever. Besides…that coffee obsession has to start somewhere!
The favorite local drink is beer poured over ice, with lime and sea salt
‘Michelada’ is one of the best thirst quenchers you could ever savor, as long as you get over the mental barrier of having ice served along with your beer. Refreshing, tangy and delicious, it’s the perfect antidote to a hot and humid day in Costa Rica. Try a michelada made with Imperial Beer (the most popular national brew in the country) after a full day’s outing and we have no doubt you’ll also be pleasantly surprised.
There are two types of recently discovered ferns in Costa Rica, which are named after Lady Gaga. No joke.
The most surprising fact to discover, perhaps, is not that two newly found Costa Rican ferns have been named after Lady Gaga, but that there are actually a further 17 types worldwide which have been also named after the eccentric performer. The most often quoted reasoning is that these ferns have a DNA coding which roughly spells out GAGA but, in Costa Rica’s case, it was due to the resemblance, of the fern, to the singer’s costume at the 2010 Grammy Awards. Nothing beats biologists with a sense of humour!
Costa Rica banned recreational hunting in 2012
True to their nature-loving inclinations, Costa Rica became the first country in both Americas to ban hunting of anything for sporting purposes. In fact, although the country does host bullfighting competitions, the bulls are never hurt and win over humans most of the time. They are allowed to run around a rink freely and are welcomed to ‘nudge’ any foolish man or boy who decides to jump in and outrun them. Yes, Ticos are the world’s most avid animal lovers.
Everything in Costa Rica is…well…a little smaller
Ticos are, inherently, of quite small stature and even those who may be a little overweight don’t usually reach the kind of dimensions of your average North American or European inhabitant. To this end, you may find it curious to discover that furniture made here is also quite a bit smaller than you may be used to: beds are shorter, chairs narrower and even couches a little closer to the ground.
Costa Rica is one of the most popular retirement destinations for North Americans
This one is a no-brainer really! Thanks to the tropical climate, laid-back and affordable lifestyle, myriad of things to see and do and conveniently close to ‘home’, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica is a coveted retirement mecca for many North Americans. Infrastructure here is heads ahead of neighbouring countries, health care is top notch and locals are hospitable, friendly and happy to welcome newcomers with open arms. What more could one possibly ask for?